3 AM. EST.
It was another early morning for me. I find that I`m easier to convince when I’m half asleep. Rolling out of bed I nearly squashed my cat, Dalek (Yes, I am a Doctor Who fan, and I believe Matt Smith made the best doctor but don’t mind me) who let out an annoyed mewl in response as she jumped on the floor and sauntered under the bed. Feisty little lady that one. I took stock of all my electronics and carry items for my ride, Lights? Charged. T-valve? Check. Wallet? Check. Wahoo bike computer? Charged. (This thing is amazing btw.) Satisfied, I pull my bike off the trainer that serves as it`s resting place when not in use, and swap out my steel thru axle for a lightweight Ultegra. Grabbing my water bottles, jersey, socks, bibs, and shoes, I head downstairs to change and start the coffee.
About thirty minutes later, I`m geared up and the power of espresso is coursing through my veins. I feel like a computer booting up as I perform my pre-ride checks on everything. My beloved Kestrel, although a little dusty, looks great. Satisfied I hobble out the door, hindered by my clip ons and my bike. I have a Criterium tomorrow, and so do not intend to go fast, or excessively far. I remind myself this as I switch on my lights, get into my saddle and pedal into the black. It`s a beautiful night, quiet, warm enough for me to wear a normal jersey and bibs, but cool enough to be comfortable doing so. My intention is to catch the sun as it breaks over the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, here in Virginia Beach. So, with the sounds of my bike humming happily beneath me, and my pool of spotify music striking a cadence, I head east.
Most of the ride is uneventful, I’m enjoying the solitude, the feeling of being free as can be, flying over the pavement through the night with the steady pulsing of my taillight to serve as a guide, an warning, and a weapon against those who would drive too closely, if there were anyone crazy enough to be out at 5 am on a Saturday. My headlight is a Cygolight metro and holy SH*T does the thing get bright. As I glide gently east, I`m in my element. This is my world, my road, nothing else matters here. Surrendering myself to the ride, I begin to go faster, several times do I need to rein back, reminding myself to save it for tomorrows race…but competition never stops, and there is a Strava segment ahead. #justgonnasendit
That`s exactly what happened. I recently read about how positioning on the bike can drastically alter the riders speed, so bringing my hands close to my stem, and leaning low, I take note of what my Wahoo is doing. It jumped from 22 mph, to 24 mph. I kept playing with this until I was satisfied that it was actually making a difference, then put my head down and started pumping. The catchy yet dark guitar riffs that can only mean “Coheed and Cambria” have started, and I`m probably going faster than I should, burning too much energy, but there is a part of me that resides at the very basis of who I am, and that part of me screams, “Faster! Go faster!
Eventually I look up and find I’ve made it to the oceanfront. Shushing the part of me that just wants to fly, I pull back a little and take note of the time: 06:20 AM. I have 14 minutes to get to a perfect spot to watch the sun break. I decide that the oceanfront beach will be my roost today, and make a turn that will get me there. Making the turn I notice something strange, the fairly warm, moist air that’s been permeating everything now has pockets of cold, dry air in it. Marveling at how neat it was, I pedal with renewed vigor, determined to beat the sun at its own game.
Jokes on me! The cloudy gloom that covered Hampton Roads in a cozy blanket of dim humidity was also obscuring the horizon out at sea. It`s not the end of the world, but it’s mildly disappointing. I love watching the sunrise from my saddle. Eager to explore the strange pockets of cool air in the vicinity, I turn south and start moving. There is an awesome headwind in my face, one that carries the smell of rain, and fog. True to its scent, the rain begins, and now I’m soaked but happily cruising to nowhere in particular, living for the drastic temperature changes I’m feeling every couple of minutes. The Virginia Aquarium is looming up ahead, and my music, for some reason has stopped. I elect to pull into the parking lot to fix the issue. (I recently upgraded my aluminum wheelset to deep section carbon, and my front wheels screams like a banshee when I hit the brakes – I absolutely love it. Basically, my bike has a voice now;) (yes I know I can fix this)
Satisfied that my music would be working, I begin to clip in for the return trip when my eyes land on a dock at the edge of the ocean inlet. “Eh, Screw it.” I say out loud to myself and begin scooting over to it. Leaning my bike against a support beam away from the water, I dropped my legs over the edge and sat down.
Kestrel and I stayed at that dock for a time, contentedly eating a snack and watching the various waterfowl swoop through the air. I don’t know what I needed to take from that dock, but take it I did.
BTW! The return trip was gnarly.
“Earn Your Tailwind”